On the Next Level is a series of interviews that features artists of the Art Nxt Level academy. The artists share their stories of how the academy has impacted their careers as well as share the exciting projects they have been working on. These artists have made the most of their experience and have taken their careers to the next level.
Today’s artist feature is Drew Harris. He is a painter who grew up in Canada that now resides in Malaysia.
The artwork in your Peninsula series is very emotive and appears to tell a story of travel. Does traveling and observing the world around you inspire your work? What is the driving force of inspiration behind the pieces in this series?
Drew: Growing up on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario Canada, or close by, meant access to water on both sides of this piece of land, to one of the world’s natural biosphere and to nature. The open skies meant no boundaries. The Peninsula Series is a means to travel back in my mind, while today, the world is so restricted. This series began during a time when the entire planet was feeling the effects of isolation, and less travel. Living in Asia, I regularly traveled home to Canada, however, in this case, and in this series, I was left to daydream in a manner of speaking, relying on my most recent memories of home. Memories remain a vital part of this series of abstracted landscapes.
The rich tones are from perhaps what I might believe is the truth of the environment, what I’d like to believe perhaps. The blues and deep ochres are reflective of the land and water, though intensified to create an even greater desire to return home.
What is your process in creating the abstract pieces displayed in your show?
Drew: I work primarily on canvas, which has been stretched over a restrainer, surface with a thin sheet of veneer plywood. The application of wet on wet and the use of liquid pouring mediums (liquid glass) require I work flat, on a level surface. Once the work has dried, I can set on a wall and proceed to work on my more graphic elements such as bars, dripping, painterly mark-making etc.
When did you discover the Art Nxt Level Academy and how has it been able to give an edge to your art career?
Drew: In December 2020, frustrated by a certain degree of response here in Asia, I chose to begin looking back toward the US and Canada. Through youtube, I happened to find Sergio and his breakfast show and after watching quite a number of these episodes, I emailed him directly. I didn’t expect a quick reply, but when he did, I responded in kind. I believe we both knew something quite magical and timely was happening at the time. He remembered my showing in Chicago in 1999 and 2000, so the introduction was already made between us. Sergio and ArtNxtLvl welcomed me to join in, and since, it has changed my career, my outlook and my future work immensely. As someone that may be considered a senior artist, ANL has brought forward a whole new approach to marketing my work, engagement with like minded individuals and now, some very solid friendships, of which, I am forever grateful.
What about the way you approach your art career has changed since joining the academy?
Drew: Good question. I could go on about this topic forever, but in a nutshell, ANL allowed me to revise what it was I was attempting to do in my career, in as far as marketing and marketing methods. Building a website to begin with was a big step for me as I had simply forgotten the importance of such a marketing tool. Instagram, FB, LinkedIn, all great means to help spread the word. Technologies I’d played with, but never taken seriously for some time, all of a sudden opened a whole new market to me. The other aspect is sharing ideas with like minded artists and business people from across the planet, who are engaged with ANL brought new ideas, new means to meet and to share across the planet. In essence, prior to joining Art Nxt Lvl, I had relied on local sources for marketing, national and Asian clientele to support my business, but it hadn’t gone further than that, until of course, I met Sergio and Dr Yanina.
Do you have any additional thoughts or comments you would like to share concerning your show or Art Nxt Level?
Drew: The show was superb, the technology has given me a platform, effortlessly aimed at a wider audience. In many ways, I’d been a proponent of technology and marketing, but I hadn’t seen how it could be applied until Sergio introduced his curatorial practices. The Art Nxt Lvl program throughout the past 6 months is diverse in its subject matter, as well, balanced well in its hands on, hands off approach. It is a program I see as flexible, well delivered to meet the demands of any audience. I am a hands on type of artist, I am engaged, so the practise sessions and sessions that had a project in mind, ie: video, 1 min, worksheets etc is something I myself enjoy. But the beauty of the program is that should I need a break, I can always review and pick up missing parts at my leisure. The whole team at ANL is professional and feels as though we are listened to, our questions are answered and the help is there should we need.
To see more of Harris’s art and his current exhibition, follow the links below.